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Cowper Griffith wins Landmark Trust’s Calverley Old Hall contest

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Cowper Griffith Architects (CGA) has defeated an impressive shortlist to win the Landmark Trust’s competition to regenerate its Grade I-listed Calverley Old Hall near Leeds

The studio defeated Adam Khan Architects, Berman Guedes Stretton, Buttress Architects, De Matos Ryan, Rural Office for Architecture, MawsonKerr, Baynes and Mitchell Architects and Hayatsu Architects with Assemble to win the commission, which received 75 entries overall.

The two-stage competition sought proposals to transform the late-medieval manor house into a mixed-use complex centred around holiday accommodation.

Since its inception in 1965, the Landmark Trust has transformed nearly 200 buildings of historic and architectural interest – including forts, castles, follies and towers – into holiday rental units.

The latest project comes five years after Witherford Watson Mann’s restoration of Astley Castle for the trust won the RIBA Stirling Prize.

Landmark Trust director Anna Keay commented: ‘We saw a really exciting and imaginative range of proposals for the revival of Calverley Old Hall through the competition. However, the winning design stood out, and won the unanimous support of the panel, for its marriage of real sensitivity to the Grade I-listed building with an ingenious approach to creating wonderful, uplifting spaces within and around it.’

The manor house is in the village of Calverly, between Bradford and Leeds. It was first erected in the 12th century and was continually expanded until the 17th century. Key surviving elements include a two-storey, largely 14th-century solar block; a late 15th-century great hall and chapel; an early 16th-century parlour block, and a 17th-century lodging block.

The trust purchased the site more than 30 years ago and partially transformed it into holiday accommodation. It later restored the chapel and added weather-proofing to the great hall and solar block, but plans to restore the entire site have so far floundered.

The latest project aims to transform the complex into a mixed-use facility featuring self-catering holiday accommodation, short-term assured residential tenancy and community spaces. 

Chris Cowper, partner and design director at the winning practice, said: ‘CGA are delighted to have won such a prestigious and rewarding project. Calverley Old Hall presents exciting opportunities; challenging us as designers to resolve a history of continuous change and invention, expressed in ruinous but rich detail.

‘We are very aware that the success of the project will depend upon our ability to make the social history and architectural detail of the development of the Old Hall discernable and legible, through the expressed evolution of the masonry and worked timbers already exposed.

‘We hope to create distinct but contemporary form and detail, subservient to the historic building, whilst enhancing the setting by drawing-out and celebrating the tension between the new use and the architectural iterations visible in the historic fabric. We feel privileged to have been chosen by Landmark to take the Old Hall forward into the next phase of its history.’

CGA will now work with the trust’s team of surveyors and historians to develop their winning scheme which is expected to start on site in 2020.

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